Friday, November 16, 2018

A Pirate Looks At Eighty

Yesterday a long term friend of mine sent me one of his occasional emails – an email to me, not to undisclosed recipient – that brought me up short.

It was, because I know him very well, simultaneously light hearted and deadly serious.

But, more interesting to me, it was poetic.

I was unnerved.

Out of the typical kluge of words that he sends in such emails select words leapt out at me; and they told a story; and it was a Bruce Springsteen story.

All the thing needed was the pre-story.

And I was pretty sure I could write that.

I knew him; I knew the place his email was talking about; I had had several other – close – friends over my wandering life that had come from right close to there; and had a web of stories from that group that could be distilled into that pre-story.

So I got out my yellow pad of paper and started to write.

I was surprised at how quickly it flowed.

And then the email did the rest.

The poem was done overnight.

Then I keyed into the computer, formatted it, and made the decision that no punctuation would be included.

In the final analysis it turned out that what I produced looks like a Bruce Springsteen poem written by Jimmy Buffet.

Here is the email that got this started:

“The more I think about the craziness going on maybe moving back to the town I grew up in might, I stress might, be a good idea. 

In 70+ years not much has changed. 

The harbor has filled in with sand and no one is dredging it out and they now are charging an admission fee to drive your car out on the sandbar that has formed there. 

No new business no new hotels and just plain nothing or about nothing affects it. 

Still cold as hell and tons of winter snow but the population is still about the same as it was somewhere between 9-10K depending on who's count you use.

As I think about it I do own property there two cemetery plots!

That's what happens to me now when the weather turns cold/cool it's in the low 40s here today.

My brain stops

So here is the poem:

My family didn’t have too much

But we never really cared

America was always there for us

And most of us all shared

Just put a boat in the harbor then

We could always catch some perch

And laying off their skeletons

We’d take them to the church

Where Fridays after work was done

We’d fry the gathered catch

And pretend we all were rich folks then

As a kid that seemed the best

The best that life could ever be

The best of times so far

But darkness lurked all over us

Like being trapped inside a jar

A jar so full of smoke

That nothing could be seen

But nothing seemed enough for us

So we made the most of lean

Lean times, slim pickin’s was all we had

Clouded by that jar

The best that life could ever be

The best of times so far

I was different from most of them

I got a college rag

I got a job in Mammon Town

Success was in the bag

But darkness lurked around me still

That jar now clear to see

That nothing was too great for me

So nothing would I be

I made a lot of money

And pissed it all away

Finally moved to somewhere warm

That’s where I am today

And thinking thoughts behind me

I finally may believe

That going back a lifetime

Is my last reprieve

Now I sit here wondrin’

Why I even care

Michael didn’t get me

And nothin’s really fair

My mind goes back at night time

To the fish out on the bay

That bay’s all filled with sand now

But why should I just stay

Stay here among the dying

The crippled and the dead

When packing up when dawn comes

All of this could be shed

And trek back to where I came from

Back up in the north

Back to where I came from

Back up in the north

Back to where the sandbar

That once had been the bay

Is now a metered parking lot

The perch all gone away

Still cold as hell in winter

With tons of winter snow

No new business no hotels and nothin’

Nothin’ for to show

For all the time now long gone

For all the smoke that’s cleared

And America still is there for us

So nothing should be feared

And trek back to where I came from

Back to where I own

Some land that once was left to me

Two plots with each its stone

The graveyard plots of yesteryear

The prize left me to win

Or prizes left me to own

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